Malaria is one of the most serious health hazards facing mankind today. Each year there are more than 400 million clinical cases around the world and almost 2 million of those infected will die from the disease. Most cases occur in South East Asia, India, Africa and parts of South America. The parasite belongs to the Plasmodium genus and is transmitted by pregnant female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Types of Plasmodium Species
Life-Cycle of Plasmodium Parasites
When the parasite first enters the human host, following the bite from an infected mosquito, they multiply very quickly in the host's liver before migrating into the blood. More female Anopheles mosquitoes are infected when they feed from the infected person. The parasites multiply in the stomach wall of the mosquito, then migrate through her body and infest the salivary gland. When she bites another victim, the next generation of parasites is injected into their blood stream. The life cycle then continues.
After the human host is infected by the parasite there is a variable incubation period before signs and symptoms develop. The typical symptoms of malaria include fever that occurs at intervals of 3-4 days depending on the species of malaria. Species of Plasmodium parasites vary from each other in their genetic make up and this results in different incubation times. P. falciparum takes about 7-14 days for symptoms to show. P. vivax and P. ovale take up to 8-14 days and P. malariae can take up to 7-30 days to manifest.